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Be Patient About Monetization and Ignore the Naysayers

Dave Morgan over at OnlinSpin said something that hits home.

Be patient about monetization…. Monetization efforts should be patient and not rushed. Google, Facebook, Craigslist and many others have proven that monetization will always catch up for the best services.

When I was trying to sell my local restaurant guide WestChesterMenu.com (because I was moving–not because I was abandoning the concept) my first prospect looked immediately past a great model and great metrics showing consistent growth in traffic and subscriber adoption (restaurants paying for hosted menus) and did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to determine what the financial payoff for his firm would be.  He wasn’t impressed.

That’s funny because I was immediately not impressed too!

It obviously didn’t work out but I learned something:  most people are not conceptual. Here I was trying to invent a new local model that would be sustainable (in fact, the site could really be focused on other things aside from restaurants)–knowing that money would follow when the model and supporting technology were improved.  He was all dollars and cents.

What’s the moral of the story? There’s conceptual folks and there’s folks that focus on minutiae. Granted, both are needed to run a successful business, but if you’re the visionary type who wants to try new things,  get used to folks wrinkling their brows at you.

Just wink back at them and get on with it!

Web 4.0? Content Not Technology

Folks, did I miss Web 3.0? If I did I’m sure it was technology focused. Well, I’ve had enough of technology advancements–when are we going to get better content!? Specifically, when are we going to get really good local content? For years, I’ve been assailing my friends–and pretty much anyone who would listen–on the issues in the local space (that there’s no good local content) and my wild ideas about how to solve it (given lots of capital). So what are the local issues?

  1. Local vendors are not all represented! And sometimes even if they’re on the web it might be impossible to find them.
  2. The quality of their sites is wildly variable–‘Is this a great business with a terrible site or a terrible business that has a terrible site?’
  3. The innumerable Silicon Valley solutions for local search are really annoyting. See Yahoo’s local listing for an example.

Let me back up for a sec.

While I’ve been in corporate marketing and product development for a bunch of years, my side passion is local. I just love the dynamics at play in the local space: hundreds of scrappy entrepreneurs with their sleeves rolled up trying to make a buck in a finite market, finicky consumers trying to get the best services and/or products, the lack of marketing sophistication… it’s really chaotic but lots of fun–and great stories. All this local appreciation probably stemmed from my short life as a reporter/photographer at a community weekly way back in the 90s. It was great fun to be out and about on a daily basis looking for great little stories.  But I digress… Let me get back to my main thread.

So what are the solutions to these local problems?

  1. Provide each small businss with a free web designer, copywriter and marketer.
  2. Since that won’t happen how about intermediaries that can aggregate, organize, improve and present the local scence in a very focused way–that is until owners get more time and money to do it themselves.

Well, if you agree that this makes sense then check out WestChesterMenu.com. I built this about 4 years ago to see what if.  What if I organized one type of hyper-local content and made it easy to find and easy to navigate? Would it work? Would it attract users? Would content providers participate?

The answer is yes.

WestChesterMenu.com took off like crazy–to the point that I was receiving unsolicited kudos from all types of foodies. Restaurant owners were willing to pay a ‘subscription’ fee to post their menus. Local business–those that sat in between restaurants–found the site compelling to advertise on.  That’s when it dawned on me: my personal vision for Web 4.0 was a good idea AND it had a great rev. model:

  1. Aggregate local content and charge a subscription fee.
  2. Charge advertisers to be seen alongside the content
  3. Charge for premium access.

That’s diversified! It’s a model built to last.

So that was a quick and dirty intro into a pretty interesting topic. I’ll be writing more. Let me know what you think?